Cancer survivors who are nonwhite, less educated, older, and/or have comorbidities were less likely to receive adequate cancer pain management, according to a study published in the journal Psycho-Oncology.1

Previous research has demonstrated sociodemographic inequalities in the assessment and management of cancer-related pain; however, most studies have focused racial and ethnic disparities with limited attention paid to other sociodemographic factors, such as age and education.

For the study, investigators analyzed data from 4707 cancer survivors who participated in the American Cancer Society’s Study of Cancer Survivors-II and had reported experiencing pain from their cancer. The influence of sociodemographic factors, and physical and mental health comorbidities was used to generate a list of 15 barriers to pain management.

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Investigators found that two-thirds of cancer survivors reported at least 1 barrier to pain management. Although patient-related barriers were common, the researchers observed the greatest disparities in provider-level and system-level barriers.

Specifically, after controlling for years since diagnosis, disease stage, and cancer treatment, the study revealed disparities in pain management by race/ethnicity, age, education, and physical and mental health comorbidities.

“Future efforts in research, clinical practice, and policy should identify and/or implement new strategies to address sociodemographic inequalities in cancer pain management,” the authors conclude.


1. Stein KD, Alcaraz KI, Kamson C, Fallon EA, Smith TG. Sociodemographic inequalities in barriers to cancer pain management: a report from the American Cancer Society’s Study of Cancer Survivors-II (SCS-II). Psychooncology. 2016 Aug 12. doi: 10.1002/pon.4218. [Epub ahead of print]